Lulu is visiting the zoo with her mummy and her favourite toy, Rabbity. With everything packed, they catch the bus and off they go, ready to meet all sorts of creatures. But when Lulu discovers she has lost Rabbity, she is very upset and they have to hunt for her.
This is another in the Lulu series designed to introduce preschoolers to new adventures and help them talk about those they have already experienced. There are lots of flaps to lift to discover what’s underneath, engaging the young child not only in the story but offering them the opportunity to share their own stories.
Stories about going to the zoo are not new but this one will be new to our youngest readers and they will learn that books have lots of fun inside them.
What do these women have in common -Mary Reibey, Tarenore, Mary Lee, Nellie Melba, Edith Cowan, Tilly Aston, Rose Quong, Elizabeth Kenny, Annette Kellerman, Lores Bonney, Emily Kame Kngwarreye, and Ruby Payne-Scott?
Some of the more familiar names may provide a clue, but all of them are Australian women who have made a significant contribution to the national or international stage and all feature in this new book written by Pamela Freeman, known for her passion for keeping women’s stories alive. With at least one representative from each state or territory, except the ACT, these women are “the warriors who paved the way for the artists, business owners, scientists, singers, politicians, actors, sports champions, adventurers, activists and innovators of Australia today.”
Designed for younger readers who are just learning about those who have gone before, each has a brief biography written in easily accessible language that outlines their reason for being in the book and a full-page portrait. Links to further information for each one are provided in a user-friendly way on the final pages so that those who wish to explore further can, while those in the ACT might like to investigate which of the women from that territory have made a difference and should have been included.
There is a growing body of work that not only introduces our students to the women who have shaped this country but also challenges our girls to consider what their story will be. This is no exception and the author admits that choosing just 12 was difficult. But it is refreshing to see some new names amongst those dozen. Teachers’ resources are available.
Washed up on the shores of Turtle Island in her cradle, no one knows quite where Ariki has come from and the islanders wanted to put her back on the waves, but Arohaka said she was a gift from the ocean and a gift should never be refused. So he becomes her guardian although no matter how long she lives there, she is not accepted as one of them – by the adults or the children.
Protected by her distinctive tattoos which are different from those of the other children, Ariki loves to spend her days in the sea rather than doing chores. An excellent swimmer, her favourite game is to catch the tail of the baby yellow moon sharks and hitch a ride around the lagoon while they are too young to turn and bite her. She is more at home in the sea than on the land, and on the day her life is saved from the jaws of the nihui by a shark bigger than she has ever seen, life changes for her. Struck by drought, the islanders are struggling to find food and when two of the island’s fishermen tell a tale of a large creature that scares the nihui and almost bites their boat in half, leaving behind a tooth bigger than a man’s hand, then fear strikes and the islanders are frightened to go into the sea. They are determined to kill this monster but Ariki, her friend Ipo, Arohaka and the children have other ideas…
This is the first in a new series from zoologist Nicola Davies and as well as being an entertaining read, her knowledge of the ocean, its ways and its creatures gives an added dimension of authenticity. Ariki is a strong, independent feisty heroine who is content with herself despite the ridicule of her peers and her friend Ipo also shows similar resilience as he deals with his own issues. Highly original, well-written and utterly engaging, this is the perfect read for those who are independent readers moving on from beginner novels.
Idris lived in a small world where fences grew from the ground, shadows ruled and there were no trees offering shade, no rivers offered cool water to drink and there were no seas to swim in. His was a world full of people, but everyone in it was alone.
Then one evening a Wisp came in on the evening breeze, unnoticed by all except Idris who gentlied it from the ground and softlied away the dust. Clean and free, it began to wriggle and flitted away, finally settling at the feet of an old man, whose eyes had blurred long ago, but who put the Wisp to his ear and music memories of long ago poured forth. Then, when it came again, it went to a woman who whispered the magic word, “Once” and a forest blossomed and a thunder of colours rained down. Whispers start as the memories are released and shared and gradually the loneliness is not so sharp any more.
Time and again the Wisp brings memories to those who have not forgotten but who have no one to share them with, so what happens when the Wisp settles with Idris, whose only memories are those of the desolate, lonely place he lives in?
Set against the darkest palette that reflects the world of Idris but which lightens when memories are evoked, this is a story of hope and promise – something that no amount of hardship and desolation seems to dampen within the human spirit. No matter where the refugee camp is there is always hope that there will be freedom and a life without fences, restrictions and oppression. With its poetic, eloquent words, this is another picture book that brings to life and light the plight of refugees around the world, adding to a growing collection that makes the more fortunate stop and think.
For most children in our care, the world of refugees is not part of their every day experience but as some people show compassion and open their hearts and their doors to the families, it is creeping ever closer as the children become part of our classes, and everyone’s life is enriched. Other reviewers have suggested that this book is for those 5 or 6 years and up but as I watch colleagues share stories like The Wonky Donkey and The Book with No Pictures I wonder if those of such a young age are ready for one such as this. What questions will it raise and will we be able to answer them adequately, let alone reassure them? Certainly, if the concept of refugees is part of their known world, then in the hands of someone prepared to listen and explain, younger readers will manage it, but IMO it is one for older readers who have an understanding of the sorts of things that cause people to flee their countries; the fears of those who think such people need to be imprisoned rather than welcomed; and the concepts of hope and freedom. Despite its warm fuzzy ending, like A Different Boy, the underlying constructs are dark and it is one that needs to be read before it is shared, particularly if there are children who have been in camps like Idris in the audience. Sensitivity is essential.
In 1932 and facing the Great Depression which was engulfing the world, Danish master carpenter Ole Kirk Kristiansen closed his carpentry business and turned his attention to making wooden toys for children. Fifteen years later, after World War II and all its development with technology and materials, particularly plastic, Kristiansen purchased an expensive plastic injection-moulding machine and his wooden toys were now made of plastic. Using a name that is a contraction of leg godt which means “play well” in Danish, the LEGO group was established and by 1954, the idea of building bricks that locked together firmly so they were stable but which also came apart easily was launched with the Town Plan range of construction sets. Finally, in January 1658 the block was perfected, the patent lodged and the rest, as they say, is history.
And it is the history of that block from its evolution as a plan for a toy that could be used to build virtually anything to that realisation that is the focus of this fascinating new release, marking the 60th anniversary of the building block as we know it.
Driven by the belief that children and their development mean everything and that this must pervade everything that is created, and based on the principles that the system must
provide unlimited play opportunities
be for girls and boys
inspire enthusiasm in all ages’
be able to be played with all year round
provide endless hours of healthy, quiet and safe play
inspire imagination, creativity and development
be topical and provide add-on value for preceding products
those initial town construction sets have evolved into a world of designs and models that span buildings, characters, transportation, books, movies, furniture, fabric, licensed merchandise, even theme parks! That journey is traced in full colour photographs, easily-accessible text and the signature DK layout making this a dig-and-delve must-have in any LEGO fan’s collection or any library whose clients are LEGO fans. Every page has something to pore over, wonder at and learn, making it perfect as a shared conversation book so important to emerging readers.
Something particularly special for the Santa Sack for any age!
If your foot has ever found Lego in the night and you hate it, this might restore your faith…
Change is coming to Main Street as old, empty buildings make way for people with plans and machinery to build new ones.
From his window, Digby watches in wonder and although a little sad, he is inspired to build something of his own. Across the road in the park he finds an old bathtub that starts as a thinking place but becomes so much more than that, particularly after he is joined by a new friend Claude who has ideas and inspiration as imaginative as Digby’s. Throughout the cold, bitter winter the boys work, play and talk together. But when Claude’s father forbids him to play anymore because it is too dangerous, so without his friend to share it, Digby builds a door, covers it with sticks and throws away the key. And then summer comes…
Inspired by a 1938 newspaper article about homes being demolished in Erskineville, NSW to make way for a government housing development, the first of its kind in Australia, this is a story that explores the concept of “home” as compared to “house”. Is home a physical structure or can it be something less tangible, a place defined by friendships and memories as Digby discovers. IS it about fancy kitchens and luxurious furniture or about belonging?
Houses in Australia have changed and evolved over time, even though its non-indigenous history is so short. “Better” equated with “bigger” as people climbed the property ladder and now what was viewed as the pinnacle not so long ago is now the starter home, and the popularity of home renovation shows show no sign of waning. Among the NLA’s collection are prints, photographs, paintings and a host of other ephemera that explores those changes as we seeks to satisfy that basic need for shelter, and this book is the perfect starting place to explore society’s concept of what a home is – and whether the structure really alters the basic premise that Digby concluded.
Recently there was a national furore because a 9-year-old girl considered the words of our national anthem, concluded they were disrespectful to the indigenous community and refused to stand for the song in a school assembly. Adults were outraged, claimed that this had to be the parents’ doing and recommended family counselling, suspension from school, and even a “kick up the pants” – bullying in a way that in the next breath they condemn. And yet we as teachers are striving to have students form opinions, express and justify them and the book reviewers I most admire – Megan Daley, Sue Warren, Margot Lindgren and Tania McCartney to name just a few – identify, celebrate and recommend those books we discover that have feisty, independent, thinking female characters that our readers can relate to.
So what then, would these conservative self-styled social commentators and political leaders make of Princess Swashbuckle? For this froggy princess (designed perhaps as a sideswipe at the saying about having to kiss lots of frogs to find a prince) has dreams to “one day rule the waves as a froggy pirate queen”, much to her parents’ dismay as they see her married to a handsome prince and leading a more conventional, traditional life. Disgusted by this thought, Princess Swashbuckle understands that she is so much more than her parents’ ideas, so she packs her bags and stows away on a pirate ship. Assuming leadership of the Stinky Fish abandoned by its captain, she tells the crew that they are “going on a mission to find NICE things to do.” News of her good deeds spreads far and wide but even swashbuckling princesses can get homesick…
Told in rollicking rhyme and rhythm and beautifully illustrated, this is a story to inspire young girls and boys to know themselves and follow their dreams to find their own version of happy. If that means bucking the conservative, conventional norm, then so be it. Being the change you want to see can be difficult. In the wake of the publicity given to Harper Nielsen’s protest, including a dedicated Twitter tag #sitwithharper, social media was flooded with alternative, more inclusive versions of the anthem including this one from Judith Durham.
Just as Harper started a conversation that might change thinking and Princess Swashbuckle changed Frogland forever, we need more of both of them – if only to inspire our girls and to show the right-wing,status-quo, stick-in-the-mud thinkers that young people do have thoughts and opinions and as future leaders, they need to be encouraged to express them, act on them and be acknowledged for their courage to do so.
Fleur the Flamingo has a birthday coming up and her friend Bo is teasing her with the clues about her present by sending her letters. The first clue is that it is very big – could that mean there will be ice-cream mountains or ten-tiered cakes? The second clue is that it is very strong. Could that mean superheroes with soaring wings or body builders to carry things? The third clue has Fleur baffled – it is a little bit wobbly! So maybe multi-coloured swimming fishes or belly dancers to polish dishes.
But on her birthday there was nothing in the letterbox and no parcel on her doorstep! So she waited and waited and waited and then…
Storybooks that you can hear yourself reading and imagine the children responding to, are the very best IMO. And that is the case with this one. We could have so much fun trying to imagine what Fleur’s present might be and gradually eliminating suggestions as we combine the clues.
Rhyme, rhythm, and a touch of intrigue – wonderful!
Greece’s Mount Olympus is the home of the gods and goddesses, including Zeus, Poseidon, Hera and Aphrodite. It was also the home of Athena, Goddess of Wisdom and War and in this new picture book readers are introduced to her. From her extraordinary birth – sprung from the head of her father, in the midst of a thunderous headache – to her refusal to take no for an answer, she inspired powerful gods, goddesses and humans and determined the terrifying fate of those who dared to cross her path.
Illustrated in graphic novel style, similar to that of The Story of Tutankhamun, it is more suited to independent readers who can manage the small cursive font. The stories associated with the Greek gods and goddesses, their amazing feats and their legacy continued in modern literature references have proven popular with the Year 3+ crowd over the years, and once they know about them they are hooked. Perhaps this is the book that will spark a run on your 292.2 section!
In the village of Le Pouget, in the Languedoc region of south west France, Francis Cammaerts is resting after the celebrations for his 90th birthday come to a close. As dusk turns to dark and the church bell strikes midnight, he thinks of those who have been a part of his journey to this ripe old age – those who raised him, supported him and had so much to do with the man he became. And from those reminiscences comes a story of determination, danger, courage and heroism that would have gone untold if not for Morpurgo’s pen and Barroux’s brush.
One of two sons born during the Great War, Francis grows up to be a teacher while his brother Pieter is a burgeoning actor, But when World War II breaks out, the brothers take very different paths. Frances believes war is futile and barbaric, that people should not descend to the level of the fascists and that only education and pacifism are the “way forward for humanity”. Pieter, however, believes that pacifism will not stop Hitler, that the cruelty of fascism had to be confronted and so he becomes a Sergeant Navigator in the RAF. While he eventually goes to join a bomber squadron in Cornwall, Francis goes to Lincolnshire to work on a farm having justified his beliefs to a tribunal.
But when Pieter is killed returning from an air raid over France and a bomb dropped by a German plane kills the family on the next farm including including baby Bessie, Francis begins to rethink his decision, particularly as he now has a wife and the birth of his own child is imminent. He talks to Harry, his mentor from his teaching days – a conversation that changes his life forever as it leads him into the silent world of the secret agent working with the Resistance in France…
As with Flamingo Boy, Morpurgo shines a light on the real story of war and its impact on ordinary people by taking an unusual perspective and telling the story through that. This is not a tale of derring-do embellished with action scenes and special effects -although it could be that in the hands of another – but a quiet tale of remembrance and reflection, of the impact of the legacy of others on a particular life, when that life itself has left its own legacy. Morpurgo has said, ” This book may read like fiction. But it is not. That is because it does not need to be.” It is the story of his own uncles.
Generously illustrated using family photographs which are included at the back of the book as well as biographical details of those who had such a profound impact within the story, Morpurgo has produced a story that not only tells yet another untold story of the war but one which has shaped his life too.
One for independent readers wanting something different, compelling and utterly readable.